We had two groups, and after meeting at Roche Cove and swapping vehicles, my group drove to Aylard Farm, where we started off at about 9 a.m. A hot day! Even along the ocean, but much cooler in the shade of the trees. We didn’t hurry, and our total time was 7 1/2 hours, but according to my Gaia appears the moving time was only 5 hours 39 minutes. So we revelled in the sights along this beautiful trail for almost two hours!
What a perfect day on the trail! When I scheduled the trip, I had high hopes for great weather. But, as the day approached, the forecast took a turn for the worst. We all expected a cold, drizzly day, with wet brush and slippery rock. We were in for a treat!
Seven club members met at Alyard Farm for a car shuffle that allowed some participants the luxury of doing the coast trail without the commitment of following the inland route back to the cars. We started our hike shortly after 8 AM. In the dim light of the morning and in the tall trees, we had no idea what would await us when we got to the coast.
On Saturday, February 12, 2022, four of us hit the trail on what turned out to be one of the finest February days we could have hoped for.
The East Sooke Coast trail is one of the club’s lifetime hiking objectives. Along with its incredible west coast character, it has a lot of ups and downs. My first time on the trail was in my first year with the club, 2011. At the time I was surprised about the elevation gain on the trail. I remember being amazed at how remote the hike felt.
We met at the Aylard Farm trailhead at 08:00 under somewhat promising skies and nearly ideal hiking temperatures. Depending on the weather forecast source, we were either in for a wet day, consistent with a “Bil Trip” as Mike points out, or a dry day and warming temperatures. We were not disappointed – were able to enjoy both forecasts throughout the day.
East Sooke Park is an amazing place that folks go to learn. They learn to hike, they learn to rock climb, slackline, they learn to navigate, and they learn about west coast beach ecosystems.
On this trip, on this corner of Vancouver Island, I tasked myself with learning to lead a trip. And it began before the trip with the logistics of organizing IMR members and non-members alike interested in the trip. On the morning of the hike, nervousness struck – what would I forget? First-aid kit? Sunscreen? Water? Did I forget to email anyone?
How funny the nervousness is. Is it pointless as nothing pertinent was left behind? Or is it a beast that helped me not to forget anything?
10K; easy to do, right? I mean even at my more advanced age I could run it in less than an hour, albeit on a flat, smooth trail. So how long does it take to hike 10K? Six hours?! Well, that’s how long it took us for the East Sooke Coast Hike yesterday. Granted we had a 40 min. stop for lunch and a few other breaks, but it was still five hours of hiking, up and down and around.
We drove to the trailhead at Aylard Farm, and then took taxis to the trailhead at Pike Road. For the first 2K the trail is flat through scenic second growth forest.
Twelve of us met at Aylard Farm where we had two taxi-vans meet us and transport us to the trailhead at Pike Road. We started hiking under clear skies, but only 3 of us deemed it warm enough for shorts.
After 20 minutes we came to Iron Mine Bay, and some of us donned more clothing to contend with the cool ocean breeze.
The brisk breeze kept the temperatures perfect for hiking, and we marvelled at the views of the Juan de Fuca Strait. I had only done this hike once previously, and had forgotten how rolling it is; you really have to be careful of your step going up and down the rocks! And the ocean is a long ways down from some of the precipitous cliffs!
East Sooke Regional Park offers 50 kms of trails through forest, marsh and field a Challenging 10 km Coast Trail, Pocket beaches, rocky bays and tide pools for exploring and scuba diving and Spectacular views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Olympic Mountains. This would be my third hike following the Coastal Trail from Pike Road to Aylard Farm. We started by making arrangements the day before with Sooke Harbour Taxi to pick us up at the Aylard Farm parking lot and drop us at the Pike Road trail head.
We departed Parksville at7:00am Saturday in the darkness of the early morning not knowing what type of weather we would encounter today. When we were about 20 minutes from the Aylard parking lot we contacted the dispatcher for Sooke Harbour Taxi to confirm that we would be ready at our pre-arranged time for pickup.
The day started out cool and overcast with a blanket of fog over the ocean blocking our view of the Olympic Mountains. The trail is fairly easy to follow with a well trodden path through the forested sections and reflective markers over the rocky areas, recently they have added colour trail maps at the major trail junctions as well as the existing wooden directional signs.
We stopped for lunch at the Cabin Point Trap Shack, normally I would sit on the rocks and enjoy watching the waves move in and out over the tidal pools, but today we sat under the protection of the trap shack roof overhang from the light drizzle that had started about an hour earlier. This area is were you will usually start to see people on the trail. Along they way to our next stop at Beechy Head the sun decided to come out. From Beechy Head we continued past the Petroglyphs at Alldridge Point and to our final stop at Creyke Point to enjoy watching the sunlight start to diminish over the ocean before returning to the parking lot at Aylard Farm.
Along the trail we enjoyed the rugged coastal terrain views of Vancouver Island, multiple Heron sighting, a few Seals having a nap on the rocks, numerous Sea Gulls and a very vocal Squirrel. The trail is well maintained with lots of ups and downs, but no major elevation gain, also there are a few spots along the way that drop down to sea level. In total we hiked 13.5 km and took 7 hours with lunch and a few picture breaks.